November 11, 2010 marks the 70th anniversary of the two-day blizzard that overwhelmed the Upper Mississippi River Valley in 1940 and took the lives of many local duck hunters. The storm reached from the Dakotas to shipping on Lake Superior & Lake Michigan. 154 people lost their lives with injuries to many others.
Wings Over Alma Nature & Art Center is proud to offer a small exhibit to commemorate this event and remember those who lost their lives. The exhibit is available to the public daily during the month of November.
The Alma Area Museum offers an exhibit on the Armistice Day Blizzard and although the museum has closed for the 2010 season we encourage you to visit the exhibit next year (June through September). You can often hear visitors who pass by the exhibit at the museum in conversation with their group saying "I remember that day..." or "my father told me stories about ..."
ARMISTICE DAY BLIZZARD -- 2nd Biggest Storm of the 20th Century November 11-12, 1940 Mild weather ahead of an intense low pressure system tracking from Kansas to western Wisconsin, was quickly followed by a raging blizzard. Many people were caught off-guard by the severity of the storm and particularly the plunging temperatures. Sixty degree temperatures during the morning of the 11th was followed by single digit readings by the morning of the 12th. These very cold temperatures and snow amounts were very unusual for this early in the season. Up to 26 inches of snow fell in Minnesota, while winds of 50 to 80 mph and heavy snows were common over parts of the states of Wisconsin, South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa and Michigan. These winds were responsible for whipping up 20 foot drifts. A total of 154 deaths were blamed on the storm (13 in Wisconsin), most of which were duck hunters along the Mississippi River.
November 11, 1940 Weather Map
Provided by ABC Affiliate 33 in Mississippi Click on Map for Details
Cyclonic Blizzard, Panhandle Hook
November 10, 1940
November 12, 1940
27 inches at Collegeville, MN
971 millibars at Duluth, MN
$2 million (1940 dollars)
Midwest United States
Prior to this event, all weather forecasts for the region originated in Chicago. The Midwest headquarters of the nation's weather service was not staffed overnight, no one was watching the storm's explosive development in the pre-dawn hours of November 11th. The uproar over this deficiency and the resulting loss of life led to several changes. The Chicago office went to round-the-clock operation and the Twin Cities office was upgraded so it could issue forecasts.
PICTURES FROM THE MINNESOTA STATE HISTORICAL SOCIETY There are a few local newsaper articles on this event and very few pictures. But to demonstrate the magnitude of this blizzard with its change in temperature from 70 degrees to Zero we have included a few pictures from the Minnesota Historical Society's digital archives. See all 37 Armistice Day Blizzard photos here.
Portland Avenue, Minneapolis
Train Still Rolling
Madison, Clearing Snow
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